Nearly every industry uses business presentations. They are the key element making it possible to get the desired message across to the audience in an attractive format. How to make full use of the potential of a business presentation? How to prepare and deliver it so as to achieve the desired effect, e.g. sell a product or service?

When preparing a business presentation, it is worth taking its two dimensions into consideration: the written one, presented to the audience on a projector screen, and the oral one – delivered by the speaker. “In this context, we need to remember above all about the minimax principle, that is a minimum number of words – maximum content. This way, we will condense everything that is important in the presentation and the audience will have no time for weariness,” advises Ewa Gadomska, a coach at the AVENHANSEN® training and consulting company. Nowadays, due to the growing professionalisation of business, the future of a specific project, and even the entire company, often depends on presentations. “This is why during presentations, when providing information, we cannot afford even the slightest mistake, much less boredom. It is an obvious fact that content presented in graphic form will always draw more attention than if it is simply written on a piece of paper and read out. The aim of the presentation is to express what words cannot express,” says Katarzyna Kmak, Marketing Specialist at COGNITY Szkolenia, about the significance and role of business presentations. When planning a public speech, it is worth remembering that the basic objective of each business presentation is to exert the desired, predetermined influence on the audience. How can we easily verify whether we managed to do that? “If 30 minutes after the presentation, nobody in the audience can remember anything specific from the speech, and the only thing they can say is that ‘there was information about product X manufactured by Y’, it means that the presentation was a waste of time both for the speaker and the audience,” explains Krzysztof Pilarczyk, Director for Content at the Gamma training company.

Presentation tools

Entrepreneurs wanting to prepare a professional business presentation have a number of paid and free tools at their disposal to help them create visually attractive content. How to find the right one? For years, the most commonly used program for preparing presentations was MS Power Point. According to experts, due to the limited number of design options it offers, it is slowly being replaced with more advanced tools. “For several years now, the paid prezi.com tool has been very popular, making it possible to prepare visually appealing presentations. But if we only need graphics to enrich the presentation, canva.com is a good and easy to use online tool. Using powtoon.com, we can also prepare an animated presentation,” lists Ewa Gadomska. In order for the presentation to look professional and interesting to the audience, we cannot restrict ourselves to presenting material in text format only. It is necessary to add some variety by including graphic elements which will make the message more attractive. “Piktochart is useful for creating infographics, enabling the user to present data (charts), describe business processes or the given product or company in an interesting way in graphic form,” advises Krzysztof Pilarczyk.

Basic principles

Even though the preparation and delivery of a good presentation is a true art that few people have mastered a hundred percent, everyone is able to present the desired content in an interesting and professional way if they follow a couple of basic principles. What is always worth remembering when planning a presentation? Every speech can be prepared in a number of different ways, but it is always worth remembering that the beginning and ending are the key moments of each presentation. “At the start, we capture the attention and gain the trust of the audience, while towards the end, it is a good idea to reinforce and repeat the main message. In the case of public speeches, particularly in business, we should take care to convey content in a concise manner. Long sentences, picking up numerous threads or elaborate descriptions of insignificant, marginal issues may simply make the audience lose interest in our presentation. I always apply and advise others to apply one of my principles – ‘business likes it concrete’,” says Paweł Jach, entrepreneur, Executive Director and National Trainer at BNI Poland – an organisation bringing together over 1,500 business owners in Poland. It is also a good idea to be prepared for any surprises and have solutions to crisis situations at hand. “For example, before the presentation, we should think about how we will continue our speech if technical problems occur during the presentation, e.g. the computer crashes, the projector or speakers break or there is a power outage,” advises Krzysztof Pilarczyk. The ability to remain calm in such situations and to continue the speech in spite of the difficulties shows professionalism and will surely let the audience remember both you and your message.

A review of the selected free tools for the preparation of a business presentation:

  • Adobe Kuler – a program making it possible to generate matching colours in many ways.
  • Awesome Screenshot – a plug-in for Google Chrome. Enables the user to make all kinds of screenshots. An interesting feature of this tool is the option to add notes and blur the elements we want hidden.
  • Infogr.am – a program for creating infographics. Makes it possible to create a unique infographic in a simple way. Its main advantage is the fact that it does not require any artistic skills.
  • MakeBeliefsComix – this program helps create simple cartoons, essential for those who want to prepare extensive drawings presenting complex problems in a simple way.
  • PowToon – a tool enabling the creation of simple animated videos, which draw much more attention of the viewers than ordinary text.
  • SpiderScribe – makes it possible to create mind maps containing: text, images, documents, and if necessary, even geographical maps.
  • Wordle – with this tool, the user can create a tag cloud containing e.g. the presentation’s key words.

By: Katarzyna Kmak
Marketing Specialist
COGNITY Szkolenia Sp. z o.o.

5 principles of an effective business presentation

CONSISTENCY
It sometimes happens that speakers-to-be are trying to learn a specific way of speaking, while the easiest way to capture the audience’s attention and gain their recognition is to present the content in a way consistent with one’s own style of communication and expression. In other words – we should not pretend to be someone else. We have to remember about this, because trust is gained through authenticity, particularly in business.

CLEAR OBJECTIVE
The preparation of each presentation should begin with specifying its objective. We should ask ourselves the following question: what do we want to achieve through our speech? If the adopted objective is e.g. product sales, the structure, stories, vocabulary, graphics, and style of the presentation should be subordinated to just that. But if we want to e.g. collect information from the market on what we could improve in our product, the presentation should be completely different. A clear objective means that I know precisely how the audience should feel after my speech (e.g. motivated), what they should remember, what they should do, and what image of me as a speaker should remain in their heads (the so-called 3+1 objectives).

AUDIENCE
It is equally important to realise who we are talking to. The same issue can be presented in a number of different ways – formal and official style will be justified when we address our message to shareholders, and less formal style – if we want our message to reach customers. The style also changes when we talk to employees. It is worth noting that different aspects matter to each audience member and in order to keep their attention, we should learn to emphasise certain things so that the audience remains interested throughout the entire presentation.

ORGANISATION
It is worth organising the content of our presentation according to the level of significance of the issues it raises every single time. The beginning and ending of the presentation is also really important and during these parts, we should also clearly repeat the message addressed to the audience. Very useful tools enhancing the message include all kinds of statistics, case studies, and fact from the company’s daily life. It is also good to prepare several industry-related stories, titbits or jokes, which will help make the atmosphere during the meeting more relaxed. Finishing, it is worth recapitulating the whole, and new threads should not be picked up or new issues raised at the end of the presentation.

PRACTICE
It is important to consciously use body language and skilfully convey information so that it stays in line with the content presented on the screen, but is not its accurate reflection. Particularly in the case of presentations during which it is impossible to have a dialogue with the audience, it is important to prepare and practise the presentation, preferably in front of an actual audience or by recording it on video – it is a great way to easily spot and correct the most conspicuous mistakes.

Paweł Jach
Executive Director and National Trainer at BNI Poland

By: Beata Pałac